Young Star

The bitter end or how to ruin a perfectly good movie the 'Ruby Sparks' way

THESE AREN'T THE DROIDS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR - Jiggy and Jonty Cruz - The Philippine Star

Ruby Sparks could’ve been the breakout film of the year. The trailer showed much promise and the people behind it are (were?) some of today’s cinema’s most promising. Instead, it’s a film ruined by a cringe-worthy end.

The movie is about Charlie (played by Paul Dano), a young writer suffering from a sophomore slump. After writing a huge success of a book at the age of 19, he hasn’t written his follow-up in years. One day, he begins writing about a girl who he first saw in his dreams, Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan), who, in unexplained terms, becomes a real girl. The story then becomes about their relationship after the fact.

The first three-fourths of Ruby Sparks is a delight of cinematic narrative. It’s a movie that critiques its own romantic-comedy genre. The same genre that Ruby Sparks hoped to improve. It does so in a way unique to the story and to Charlie. Everything began with ideals and dreams, and the movie slowly breaks all these down. It talks about the portrayal of the “woman” in today’s rom-coms, from irresistible first impressions, to falling in love with your ideal, and learning to love a woman for who she really is. Ruby Sparks shows the faults of movies portraying one-dimensional women and the dangers of sticking to certain ideals. It’s a great discussion, referencing the language of movies, but the ending completely falls apart.

(Editor’s note: This is where we go deep into that horrible ending. SPOILER ALERT.)

Near the end of the movie Charlie and Ruby get into a huge fight which leads to Charlie controlling Ruby with his typewriter. It’s utterly disturbing and showed what should have been Charlie’s downfall. His actions lead him to the point of absolutely no return and what follows should’ve elevated the movie above most romantic-comedies. Instead it only serves as a catalyst for an awful ending. It’s the most important scene in the film but only ends up as end-justifies-the-mean bulls**t in the movie’s resolution. The ending is completely wrong for the film in more ways than one.

The torture scene near the end of the movie is a brilliant display of Charlie’s descent into darkness. Paul Dano plays Charlie so well, and everything from his eyes to his fingers screams absolute menace. This is all to show that Charlie is irredeemable. To control Ruby the way he does, to the point of making her act like a dog and a cheap puppet, strikes a chord with the audience. The scene is morally disturbing and shows Charlie as his own worst enemy. But the most important scene in the film is cheapened by everything that follows. We’re not claiming to be the most innocent of men, but we can all agree that there’s not a lot that is worse than rape. And that’s what Charlie does to Ruby in his own way. And that act does not deserve redemption. Let alone a best-selling book.

At the end of the film, Charlie meets Ruby again… for the first time. Except, she isn’t Ruby Sparks at all. Let that sink in again. The moment you accept this is when the movie falls apart again. Let’s say that Charlie and this new “Ruby” got together, then how would Charlie’s parents react? How would the people who are sure they’d met before as a couple react or even believe that this girl is not Ruby Sparks? It makes the movie come apart and cheapens it by insulting the audience’s intelligence. A great ending is not about giving what they think the audience wants but giving what the audience deserves. This is what the film fails to understand.

Ruby Sparks is about the ideal notion of love transitioning into a real understanding of it. Ruby was a fantasy that became real. And in her realness, she was allowed to become fully whole. Love does not grow otherwise. Charlie refused to let Ruby and their relationship grow from his ideal and so it ended and lost Ruby. Having the ending be a sort of deus ex machina with him becoming successful by turning his truths into fiction — and a best-selling work of fiction at that — is the opposite of the movie’s theme. Worst of all, the fact that Ruby started again from zero after becoming “real” takes away from the entire movie. The ending goes against everything the movie was supposed to be about.

In an interview with indiewire.com, the film’s writer and Ruby Sparks herself, Zoe Kazan, said she wrote the story from her own experiences, from her past relationships, and how her partners only saw her how they wanted to see her. They closed her in their little boxes. These observations eventually resulted in Ruby Sparks, for better or worse. But perhaps the ending was Zoe’s ideal. It was how she saw her movie ending, and she only saw its ending for what it was: fantasy. And for her, that was reality.

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Did you like Ruby Sparks? Did you just feel so much hatred towards us after reading this? E-mail us at [email protected]!











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